Let’s face it FlamesNation, I have not been the biggest advocate of Cory Sarich over the past few seasons – so when it came time to profile the Flames free agents, I’m probably the last one you expected to see doing the write-up.

Sarich is going to be one of those players whether he is re-signed or not by the Flames that will draw a lot of discussion. Regardless of what side of the fence you sit, undoubtedly most people will have valid comments to back their arguments. In the end, Sarich’s future in Calgary will not be determined by a column with more pros or more cons in it, rather it will hopefully based on a methodical evaluation leading to a logical conclusion.


No one is going to dispute that despite everything, one of the roles that Sarich filled valiantly for the team was that of the consummate warrior. Whether he was injured or just not 100% on any given night, he showed up to battle and was never one to shy away from getting dirty by going into the corners. His physical play was relied on after the departure of Robyn Regehr and if the Flames were going to make the opposition shy away from one side of the ice, that would be a burden that would rest mainly on the shoulders of #6.

In order for Sarich’s strengths to be used effectively, he was going to have to be used strategically. He’s not going to be the guy you look for on the powerplay and he won’t be the guy that will anchor the penalty-kill, but he has been the defenseman that will log the steady minutes for the club and given the right matchups, he has proven to be responsible in his own end.

Not too long ago, Arik made a case for Sarich by looking at some of his numbers as evidence. It’s true that amongst the defensemen, Cory saw the third toughest zone starts and he managed second highest Relative Corsi, while facing the fourth easiest completion. These factors alone to some fans will justify the need to re-sign Cory, even if it’s for one year.


Despite the accolades that Sarich has gathered over his career, he is still drifting towards the path that saw Regehr leave Calgary. There are some daunting facts that weigh on his future like a chained anchor and unfortunately if the Flames are serious about turning the corner from the best team to not make the playoffs every year, they are going to have start with players like Cory Sarich.

Can the Flames do without the Cory’s experience? Unfortunately when we are talking about Calgary, experience is just the polite way of saying he’s getting too old. When you equate older, slower players to the development of your team, the only thing the younger guys are going to “experience” is losing. Sarich might have a lot of ties to Feaster from back in his days with Tampa, but those days are long gone now – and so is a significant part of Sarich health.

With chronic injuries on top of already evident issues, it’s hard to argue that he still fills a role on this team. Going back to Arik’s article, there was an accurate counter claim made in the comments by none other than Nation Overloard, Kent Wilson.

”Sarich doesn’t really fill a need on the team. Calgary is already swimming in bottom pairing defenders – TJ Brodie, Anton Babchuk, Derek Smith, Clay Wilson (one-way deal next year).”

Not speaking for Kent by any means, but, for me this is a valid point in that it shows Sarich was functional by opportunity and necessity for the Flames last year. Injuries to Derek Smith and Giordano, not to mention the banishing of Babchuk to the press box left Sarich with a secure position in the line-up. Provided there is a healthier stability in the group and depending what new head coach, Bob Hartley, has in mind for Babchuk, and you can already see Sarich’s ice time diminishing. There is also the issue that Clay Wilson and Brett Carson move to one-way deals next season. Where do they fit in the line-up? Their salaries together add up to Sarich’s perceived One Million dollar price tag, not to mention the significant age differences.

You can also factor in recently signed Brady Lamb. At 24, he is obviously going to be given looks in training camp. With all of these younger players in the mix, does anyone honestly see a spot for Sarich that doesn’t reek of desperation and nostalgia? What experience are we actually looking towards, after five years, twelve playoff games, no goals, two points and eight penalty minutes? And why is that worth a million dollars?


It’s time to wave goodbye to Cory Sarich. Re-signing him should be a last resort, and by last resort, I mean they find absolutely zero defensemen to sign or trade for and three of their current blueliners are hurt in training camp with extended injuries.

I know I have been hard on him all season long, but this decision comes from the expectations of what Calgary needs to do as far as going in a new direction. I don’t see how that’s possible if they are still clinging to relics of a past they were never a part of; and a past that Sarich is incapable of reproducing. There is just no logic to the move.

The Flames may have an unproven depth on defense but it is also one that has not been given significant chances. Players like TJ Brodie and Derek Smith were given that chance and they made the most of it. There are enough younger options available to Feaster and Hartley that keeping Cory Sarich around would keep an option open to them that is too easy to fall back on.

If Feaster’s intention is to move on from being adrift in a sea of mediocrity and accelerate the process he initially had in mind, then it’s time to leave the elders behind and go looking for land.

It seems the only logical path to take, but that’s just me. What say you FlamesNation?

  • Vintage Flame

    Cory is class all the way & no doubt he can score a cheap contract for a competitive team looking for depth. Chances are he doesnt sign until the season already begins, if it does. He’s too young to retire unfortunately, would love to see him in a front office or coaching assistant capacity & stay within the organization.

  • jakeryley

    a lot will depend on what happens at the draft…but having a guy like Sarich on the bottom pairing alongside Smith and push Brodie up to the 2nd pairing with Giordano could be interesting – if Brodie comes into camp ready for that sort of role.

    Hard to speculate with so many questions regarding just what in the blue blazes Feaster’s management team is going to be doing over the next 3 weeks – but Cory Sarich is a guy you gladly march into battle with. Pure heart.

  • Vintage Flame

    In my mind it’s going to take somewhat of a miracle for the Flames to re-sign Sarich. There is just too much clutter at the bottom with younger options.

    If the Flames make some trades to move some of the D-men they have then that might clear some space for Sarich in the line-up, but that’s a double edged sword in that the moves are probably to bring in other bodies that are still more capable than Cory. Thus pushing him back down and off the playing roster.

  • Vintage Flame

    Loved his effort, but age and health are a concern. For the $ (about $1-$2m) you can get others. My concern is Feaster doesn’t know hockey so he’ll go with with the devil you know, aka Modin.

  • everton fc

    I’d ratehr have Sarich at $1mill, than Babchuk at 2.5mill.

    Knowing Feaster wanted to re-sign Babchuk makes me think Babchuk’s in at least Feaster’s plans.

    I wonder if sending Babchuk down to Abby, having Ward work with him… Would actually help?

    • Nah. Babchuk is 28-years old. At this point, he is what he is.

      I’d like to note at this point that the narrative surrounding Ward’s abilities as a developmental coach are rapidly outstripping the reality. Not to say he didn’t do some good work with the Heat last season or that I don’t believe the accolades his former players shower him with – just that his influence has yet to suddenly produce an order of magnitude improvement in any one player in the Flames system.

      That’s not really a knock on Ward. Even if you’re a great inspirational speaker and give guys every chance in the world to succeed, players are always going to be restrained by their own various idiosyncratic factors.

  • Vintage Flame

    @VF – rare that I agree with everythimg you have to say in a column, but I do here. Re-signing Sarich is simply a move in the wrong direction (younger/faster/more skilled). At his age and injury history it shouldn’t be difficult to find a bottom pairing D-man to replace him.

    The one and only problem I see, which you mentioned, is that the Flames will then have exactly zero physical D-men.

    Our D were too easy to play against this year and being able to shut guys down without being overly physical (JBo) is all well and good, but you still need some players who can instill some fear into the opposition.

    What was once a strength for the Flames has become a major concern rather quickly.

    • Vintage Flame

      Wow. It only took 50 some odd articles but I knew you would come around eventually. 🙂

      As for having zero physical d-men.. We still have Gio and I think he can play a fairly physical game.

      Something Justin mentioned awhile ago was that if you have a defenseman that can skate, like Boumeester can then he doesn’t have to be that punishing hitter.

      I also think we see a guy like Derek Smith elevate his physical play this coming season. IMO

      • JR

        exactly. related: if you have a defenseman that can’t skate, it doesn’t matter how hard he hits someone because more often then not he wouldn’t be able to catch him.

  • Graham

    In my first management position, my boss told me that ‘officially’ I had the budget for 11 full time people, and that I could ‘in theory’ spend my full budget. However, reading body language and in between the lines, it was absolutely clear that I was to leave the vacancy open and was not in ‘reality’ to exceed 10 full timers.

    Listening to Feaster, I can’t help but wonder if he is in the same position, he says he can spend to the cap, but can he in ‘reality’…

    How much Feaster can actually spend is going to have a huge impact on someone like Sarich.
    With a limited budget you would have to find a cheaper, NHL minimum alternative. With a bigger budget, Sarich could fill a useful (but limited) depth role.

    It’s going to be an interesting few weeks…

  • supra steve

    For me, it all comes down to one question. What is our goal next year?

    If the Hartley signing means we are going to continue to bash our collective skull against the wall, then we probably look for an upgrade on Sarich, cause that is sure to get us into the playoffs. And as the King’s proved, anything can happen once you get into the playoffs. That is all complete BS of course.

    If we are going to rebuild, Cory is as good as any experienced D-men to fill a spot in the roster, and occasionally create opportinities for the opposition.

    If Feaster’s plan is to try to build a winner, but be prepared to tear it all down in the new year when it doesn’t work, then let Sarich go. Sign someone who will have more value at the trade deadline.

  • MC Hockey

    I think Sarich is a warrior and may even be useful, but Flames need to move on already to new people and better puck-oving D-men. Give young guys a chance especially since 2 of them are now on 1-way contracts.

    However, Flames will lack physical D-men, so I really hope the Flames go for Barrett Jackman as a UFA to sign if he will come here. Given his size, physical play, level-headednes, and likelihood to play 5 to 7 more years. I would be OK paying him 4.5M average (the cap hit) over 4 years, say 5M/annum in both year 1&2 and then 4M in both years 3&4. We have to overpay a bit to get him here.

  • jakeryley

    its time sarich limped into the sunset. bottom pairings are for prospects and youth to learn the craft at the nhl level. the defense position at the big league level is the toughest to master.

  • RexLibris

    @Kent Wilson

    Thanks for adding that bit about Ward, Kent.

    I’ve been beginning to wonder about the online hype he’d been receiving lately.

    I’m sure he’s a good coach, but I’m left wondering if he needs some more time, and perhaps some more talent at his disposal, before his NHL readiness/applicability can be determined.

  • TheoF14

    As much as I do really like Cory, I think it might be time for a change. This organization is going in a new direction, and it just makes sense let him go. Maybe he returns in similar fashion to Ryan Smyth in EDM, but right now he will be most useful on another team. Great guy though, all class!

  • TheoF14

    I would be ok with Sarich as a stop gap in the bottom pairing or 7th guy while we develop or acquire better talent. We have only Bo, Giordano, Brodie, Butler, Smith and Babchuk right now and don’t think anyone in the minors who is ready. Unless we sign someone or draft Murray, Reilly or Trouba, Sarich would help our existing group.

  • JR

    What are the chances of the Flames using some of the cap money from Sarich, and some of the other pending UFA’s to make a pitch for Justin Schultz? Or is he restricted to an ELC contract? Would there be an appetite for either party to try & get something figured out? It would seem that Schultz would jump up the depth charts here in Calgary, which is desperately lacking in the high end defensive prospects. And would hopefully leave little doubt for Schultz about the concern for getting quality ice time.